Mary-Ann is a TV presenter and writer, specialising in Anthropology, Archaeology, Social History and Adventure, and a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society.
There’s nothing Mary-Ann likes more than a spot of adventuring – on foot, at sea, on a horse – wherever. From wild weekends in the UK (check out her series of short films for the British Mountaineering Council on Great Walks in the Lake District), to longer research trips that push her into unfamiliar territory (she spent this summer with a team of researchers and 17 pack camels walking 500km through the remote Simpson Desert in western Queensland, Australia, looking for archaeological remains and surveying desert species), Mary-Ann is always on the lookout for ways to learn more about the world and its people.
Mary-Ann’s presented shows for the BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Animal Planet and Discovery, including cult show Time Team, a series about real-life cases of feral children (Raised Wild), what life is like in the Chernobyl nuclear disaster Exclusion Zone (coming in 2016), and two films for Channel 4’s award-winning Unreported World, from the slums of Delhi and the child boxing training camps of rural Thailand.
She’s passionate about getting more people into the countryside and enjoying the outdoors. She’s also proud to be a ‘loo-minary’ for Toilet Twinning – an organization that helps the 2.5 billion people in the world who don’t have access to a toilet, by twinning your loo at home with a long-drop somewhere in the developing world.
We interviewed Helen to find out more:
What is your secret skill or talent?
I can make my eyebrows dance. Individually.
My man, my dog, people generally, kindness.
What are you known for?
That tall girl with the unpronounceable surname.. (It’s O-HOT-AH)
The big dream?
To get to the end of my life with no regrets.
What life lessons do you wish to share with others?
Adventure isn’t only about ‘firsts’ or improbably long endurance events, or taking physical risks. It’s mostly about your frame of mind.
If you were Prime Minister what things would you change?
I’d prioritise our renewable energy industry and start taxing the addictive high-fat, high-sugar foods that are killing our kids. And sanitation in the developing world – a toilet (and hygiene education) is one of the most effective interventions for lifting people out of extreme poverty. Toilets save lives and build futures.
Your most embarrassing moment?
Weeing in the garden at a friend’s party under the cover of darkness, then the floodlights came on. Full moon!
Your favourite drink?
Buried in a book?
At the minute, The Hare with Amber Eyes by Edmund de Waal
A green Seat called Kermit
Cheesy pop and a bit of northern soul